This may not be PC but has anyone else ever noticed the striking similarites between babies and puppies?  I first noticed it many years ago, long before I had any babies on board.  I was working in advertising and managing one of Johnson & Johsnon’s many baby brands.  At the time, I was recently married and we had recently gotten Finnegan, an 8 week old golden/lab mix.  I was at a print shoot and in order to get the babies to “perform”, a “baby wrangler” was rewarding them with Cheerios.  The logistics of the “performance”, as you might imagine, weren’t all that daunting.  In fact, they could be pretty much summed up with “sit” and “stay” — the very same commands that I was trying to teach Finnegan!  And, while I wasn’t using Cheerios as a reward, I very well could have — they probably would’ve been a whole lot cheaper than those stinky liver treats they recommended in puppy class!

As I left the shoot and went home to Finn, I continued to mull over the similarities… babies and puppies both need to learn basic commands like sit and stay… and ideally, both will learn to “fetch” as well.  Neither babies nor puppies are potty trained and both tend to whine and cry at night.  Both can warm even the coldest of strangers; they have the power to stop people in their tracks and elicit a a broad array of “oohs”, “aahs” and “isn’t s/he cute!”  Both require an education of sorts, trips to the doctor and a remarkable amount of patience.  Additionally, they both seem to be recipients of a sort of unconditional love that you don’t know you have in you… until a puppy or baby arrives.

I get that this analogy may be going out on a limb but, when I observe the triplets at play, it affirms that I’m on to something… in our house, anyway!  You see, I recently caught Kevin digging in the garbage… truth be told, I actually discovered him gnawing on a bone he had pulled out of the trash… the type of behavior that I had scolded Finny for just moments earlier!  Then, as i turned the corner, I came upon Declan, CHEWING ON A TENNIS BALL!  No joke!  The kid was really chewing on a tennis ball!  I suppose he must be teething or something but, like most half-way decent parents, we do provide standard teething equipment — and that typically does not include tennis balls!  Declan has also been know to chew on shoes so, well, enough said, I suppose!  Then there’s Cormac.  This is a kid that, quite frankly, just likes to bark!  “Woo Woo” he says with great enthusiasm to anyone who will listen.  “Woo, woo, woo! Woo Woo!” 

I’m not sure if it’s just us — and given that I basically gave birth to a litter, perhaps it is — but, even so, I hope you will agree that there are at least a few striking similarities between our favorite four-legged and two-legged friends. 

I thought I would share a few classic Lyons Den greetings.  These pictures are representative of what might await me as I arrive home from work on any given day.  As you can see, there is a chance that our dear little “Cubs” might be scratching at the door, hoping to get to the other side.  This greeting is often accompanied by excited shouts of “DADA!” as they smear the glass with boogies.  That really kills me — not the snot-smeard glass… God knows I’ve come to live with that but, it’s the shouts of DADA that really get me.  I mean, really, I’m the one who had these guys in my belly for 36 weeks, the one who arguably changes more diapers, gives more baths and on and on and yet, almost 18 months later, they are still calling me DaDa!  I swear they do it just to taunt me.  That and because, in fairness, DaDa is probably (ok, definitely!) a lot more fun and they wish that he was the one coming through the door first!

This second greeting is becoming a bit more common.  It’s the “we didn’t rush to the door because we don’t care that you’re home because we’re too busy getting into trouble” kind of a sneaky, silent welcome.  This is the type of welcome I received tonight. Here’s what went down in our Lyons Den in just about an hour’s time…

  • Declan and Kevin took a dive into the toilet bowl… it would seem that Ciara forgot to put the lid down and shut the door after she tinkled.  Oops!  And, gross! 
  • Cormac decided to chew on an electrical cord… not necessarily my idea of a healthy snack.
  • The three of them thought it would be fun to play “Magic Carpet” as they pulled and pushed each other around the kitchen on the rug that usually goes by the sink
  • Quickly tiring of the “Magic Carpet” game, they took to moving furniture — taking turns pushing the stools around the counter and then relocating poor Finnegan’s bowls… which, of course, were empty. Poor dog!
  • “52 pickup” was next on the agenda… although, these guys don’t play with cards (yet!) — for them, it’s Tupperware — and I swear, there must have been at least 52 pieces that they scattered around the kitchen and dining room

Keep in mind that as I tripped over toddlers and Tupperware, I was also trying to put the finishing touches on “Tuesday Turkey Taco Night”.  While Liam and Ciara moaned that they were STAARRVVINGG, I was doing my best to keep my cool but felt myself starting to lose it… just as I was about to scream, there was a jingle at the door… and who should appear but… DADA!!!!!!!!!  I don’t know who was happier to see him — the five kids who just escaped Mama blowing a gasket or me, happy to know that an extra set of baby-wrangling hands had just arrived on the scene.  Either way, for DaDa, it was a warm welcome home indeed.

I recently wrote about Finnegan, our friendly family pet.  I mentioned that when Finn was a pup, I lost more sleep than when Liam was a newborn.  What I didn’t mention, but now feel compelled to, is that dear Finnegan STILL keeps us up at night. 

Our kids are amazing — they were ALL sleeping through the night between three and six months.  Of course, between the five of them, we are always up for something — a lost “WaWa”, a trip to the bathroom, a bad dream, a bad cold or a teething tot.  Even so, on most nights, we get a solid 6-8 hours of uninterupted sleep.  Unless Finnegan happens to be in our room — in which case, it’s more like 6-8 hours of constantly interupted sleep!

Take last night, for instance.  I nodded off just before midnight.  At 3 AM I was awakened by what can only be described as a loud flapping noise that seemed to be getting closer and closer… and frankly, had an accompanying odor, whine and whimper.  As Des rolled over and hid under the covers, I found myself face to face with Finn.  As he nuzzled his head next to my pillow I realized what the problem was, Finn had yet another ear infection.  Amazing, isn’t it, that with three kids in the house of ear-infection age, it’s the DOG that has one and is waking me up!

For a few minutes, I tried to ignore him.  For a few minutes, I tried rubbing his head.  At a loss by 3:30, I invited him to hop up on the bed.  No sooner had he jumped up though, when he had an ear flapping, ear itching self-imposed attack that created an effect I’ve only seen in the movies –it was that Vacation movie when Chevy Chase puts a quarter in the bed and it starts to gyrate and shake… who knew that kind of fun could be had for free if only you invited a 96 pound dog with an ear infection to join you in the middle of the night?!

Poor Finn flapped his ears to and fro with such vigor that he actually FELL OFF THE BED.  Needless to say, when 96 pounds of dog hits the floor it, it pretty much makes the whole house shake and roused me out of bed as well.  I took Finn downstairs and as I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, I found the stuff to flush his ears along with the meds from his last ear infection, which fortunately hadn’t expired.  After a rousing game of hide and seek — which is oh so fun to play with a dog dodging ear drops at 3:45AM — I finally cornered him and administered what I hoped would be some relief.

As the town bells chimed 4AM, I bid adieu to Finny… leaving him with a kiss on the nose and an apology as I slammed the door that would keep him downstairs so that I might finally get upstairs to log in a few zzz’s before sunrise… which I did.  When I got up this morning and admired the dark circles under my eyes, it dawned on me that yes, Finny may be man’s best friend but he’s really also just one of the kids… and he’s lucky that he’s their best friend as well or I wouldn’t have been nearly as sympathetic to his night-time antics!

Out to Lunch

March 16th, 2010 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Dining out with kids | Out and About - (0 Comments)
It is rare that we venture out to lunch or dinner with five tots in tow but over the course of the past month, we’ve actually done both. We went out to lunch for Valentine’s Day – and oh yes, trying to eat a burrito while ducking the flying sippy cups and picking crayons up off the floor was very romantic indeed! Even so, it beat cooking and cleaning up for a change – especially since, let’s face it, burritos are not typically on the lunch menu here at the Lyons Den!

Our dinner outing proved to be even more of an adventure. On a recent Sunday night, we decided to check out a new restaurant in town after we dragged the kids to the 5:00 mass. That’s right, we dragged all five kids to mass. And then, after shushing the big ones and wrestling the little ones for the better part of an hour, we thought it would be a swell idea to take them out in their Sunday best for a fine meal. Um, yeah, right. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fine meal indeed – but good grief, what a MESS we left behind! And, given the amount of time I once again spent on the floor – this time picking up Cheerios, oyster crackers, goldfish, fish sticks, French fries, sippy cups, napkins, sticker books, spoons, etc.! – I started to wonder if it’s worth the hassle of dining out with so many kids.

Our fellow diners couldn’t help but make comments like “Wow, you’re very brave. We only had TWO kids and we NEVER ate out!” To which I’d perkily reply “Well, I suppose we are very brave… or possibly just insane… time will tell!” Because, of course, when dining out with kids, it’s really all about the timing… how fast can we order, how quickly can the kitchen whip up (or in the case of the kids, deep fry!) our meal, and how quickly can we shove it in before there is a meltdown of sorts.

Admittedly, this race against the clock doesn’t necessarily sound like a recipe for a fun night out. In retrospect though, we did have a good time. We left with our bellies full and, for better or worse, with someone else to clean up the mess we left behind. And the more I think about it, the more I can’t help but feel sorry for those TWO kids who NEVER ate out. What a shame it would be to simply stay home for fear of that aforementioned meltdown or flying sippy cup. And really, what is dining out if not a lesson for kids in how to behave? To practice their “Ps & Qs” (as in Please and ThankQs) and be justly rewarded for good behavior with a brownie sundae or some other such delight that would never be served at home. At the end of the day, I’m not sure if I am/we are very brave or perhaps slightly insane. But, I do know that the sidelong glances I get whenever we eat out with our five little “cubs” would suggest there are many out there who think that I truly am “out to lunch”… in more ways than one!

I thought I would share a few highlights (truly lowlights!) from my morning yesterday… lest you should think it’s all laughs and giggles in the Lyons Den… which it often is, but on this particular morning, was not!

 I think, perhaps, it all went awry when I broke routine by opting to hit snooze instead of dragging my butt out of bed for a run. Without my “me” moment secured prior to the rise of five little “cubs”, I found myself irritable and angry before the kids were even out of bed. So much for the benefit of the snooze button!

 Liam bore the brunt of it before he gratefully departed for the school bus… “Get up! Get dressed! Faster! Eat your toast! Over your plate! Drink your juice! I don’t care if you don’t want a turkey sandwich for lunch, that’s what you’re getting! Where are your shoes? You DO need a coat! Eat! Faster! You’re going to be late!” Poor kid… I bet he thought it was the morning from hell too.

 Then Ciara arrived on the scene… never in my wildest dreams would I imagine I’d say “You are NOT wearing THAT to school!” to a THREE year old! Let’s face it, I need to lighten up!

 As I barked at Des to get Ciara breakfast, finish unloading the dishwasher and feed the dog, I raced up the stairs for a quick shower knowing that I was going to barely make my train to the city. I flew by the babies’ room and was stunned by the stench wafting out the door. That and the cries probably would have stopped most Moms but I was a manic Mom on a mission and my mission was to get to work on time!

 I knew it was bad when I could hear the waiing from the shower. Swearing to myself, I once again skipped shaving my legs, didn’t use conditioner and didn’t even consider moisturizer. It was 8:14; my train was at 8:41. I was wet, naked, angry and knew I had to face my poor screaming, smelly kids. As I entered their room, I literally had to gasp for air. The odor of overnight drenched diapers filled with some horrid excrement was almost too much to bear. Doing my best to put on a happy face, I stripped them all down and disposed of some the nastiest diapers I’ve ever seen… and trust me, I’ve seen a LOT of nasty diapers. Time check: 8:24. That left me just about 9 minutes to get dressed, do my hair and slap on some mascara. Not good.

 Not surprisingly, my “go to” outfit was at the cleaners and nothing else was clean. I had to settle for a snot-stained cardigan with too tight pants that were covered with dog hair. Not a confidence-building look, to say the very least. Time check: 8:33. I popped my mascara in my bag, blew air kisses to the kids, barked a few more orders at Des and RAN for the train. I arrived at the station a sweaty mess just as the train rolled in. I sat down, sent Des a text apologizing for my bad behavior and promised not to skip my morning run again… meaning the run that takes me for a few serene miles rather than a mad bolt for the train!

 Today, as I expected, got off to a better start. I got my mileage in before the tots woke up and I made the train with my makeup on my face instead of in my bag. As I overheard a woman whine to the conductor, “I can’t find my ticket but really, I’m lucky I even made it out of the house, I’ve got TWO kids at home.” I just smiled and sighed. A morning from hell is a morning from hell – and we all have them whether you’ve got two kids or five!

 PS Please note that the lack of a photo accompanying this post is quite deliberate. I’m sure you’ll understand that the morning from hell needs no pictorial evidence!

Man’s Best Friend

March 5th, 2010 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Meet Finnegan.  Finnegan is a “Glab”… that would be a Golden Retriever/Lab mix, for those of you who were wondering.  Probably much in the same way I was wondering what the hell a “glab” was when I returned home from work one day about six years ago to find this message on our answering machine:  “Hello, this is the Guiding Eyes for the Blind calling to let you know that your Glab is ready for pick up this weekend.”

Seriously?!  We had put our name on the Guiding Eyes waiting list for “released” dogs just a few months before with the understanding that it typically took years before the perfectly trained dog of our dreams failed the final test and became our ideal second pet.  That’s right, our second pet.  At the time, we lived in a one bedroom apartment in the city with Murphy, an 85-lb. fluffy golden retriever with a heart of gold.  We thought it would be nice for Murph to have a pal around as he entered his golden years but at the same time, we were thinking of starting a family and couldn’t see how we were going to fit Murphy, our baby-to-be and this “Glab” in our overly cozy living quarters.

When I returned the call, I learned that this Glab was not, in fact, fully trained with the impeccable manners one associates with a guide dog but rather, was an 8 week old clumsy pup that had essentially failed his entrance exam.  He “lacked confidence” they said as they assured me he’d be a great family pet.  Never one to resist the allure of a pudgy pup, I convinced Des that the right thing to do was to go get this Glab. It was meant to be, I said.  There will never be a good time to get a second dog so, why not now?  Plus, if we didn’t rescue this timid creature who was already a failure at only 8 weeks old, who knew what kind of a fate would await him?!

I’ve often said that I lost more sleep when Finn was a pup than when Liam was a newborn.  He was the puppy from hell.  Once he met us, he became one of the most confident dogs around and we’ve always been convinced that he flunked that Guiding Eyes test on purpose because he didn’t want to work for a living.  He drove poor old Murphy crazy and drove our neighbors crazy too.  When we’d crate him for the night, he’d cry and howl until we set him free.  Once free, he feast on non-edibles that included a pair of brand new  glasses, refrigerator magnets and a ballpoint pen — the pen incident was especially tragic since he left a blue ink trail across our brand new rug and, rather astonishingly, had blue poop for about a week.

Fast forward to today… Finn is still a bit of a spaz but you couldn’t wish for a better family pet.  When Liam was born, Finn would rest his head on the bassinette watching over him.  When Ciara was born, he’d spend his afternoons snoozing protectively in front of her crib.  And when the triplets were born, well, I think he finally met his match!  These babies have spent last year drooling on him, biting him, pulling his fur out, climbing over him, yanking his tail, “patting” him and trying to ride him.  Finnegan takes it all in stride, calmly accepting the “attention” that’s bestowed upon him. I suppose the babies have a symbiotic relationship with Finn; he tolerates their somewhat abusive behavior they let him eat off their high chairs.  A fact that I’m not necessarily proud of but what can I say, it helps with the clean up!

Finn seems to have a special kinship with Declan but all five kids adore him.  Liam likes to walk him, Ciara likes to feed him, the babies think he’s one of them and it all just reinforces how lucky we are to have given this “Glab” a home — he has truly lived up to the billing of “man’s best friend” in our little Lyons Den.

Many of you are probably familiar with the story of the “5 Little Ducks”… if so, you may know that the story has an accompanying song. It’s kind of a catchy tune (I’m ashamed to admit!) and if you know it, you should feel free to hum along as you read the following.

As we bundled up for snowbound adventures this past weekend, I couldn’t help but hum to myself…

Five little cubs went out one day
Out in the snow and into their sleigh,
The biggest one said “I want to pull”
And four little cubs were left there still.

Four little cubs went out one day
Into the sled and far away
The little girl cub said “GET OFF ME”
She hopped out and then there were three.

Three little cubs went out one day
Bouncing along in their blue sleigh
The one in back cried boo hoo hoo,
We took him out and then there were two.

Two little cubs went out one day
Slipping and sliding in their sleigh,
They were having so much fun,
‘Til we hit a big bump and then there was one!

One little cub went out one day,
Feeling all alone in his big sleigh,
He waved his arms and he smiled a big grin,
And the four other cubs went running back to him.